Yes…I mean, No

How many of you have ever said “yes” to something to later regret that answer and wish you had said “no”? I’m sure the majority of you reading this are shaking your head thinking about an exact situation.

I’ve always been equally perplexed and somewhat jealous of people who seemed to be able to say “no” to people and commitments with ease. Being the “yes” person I am, I sometimes seem rather offended in getting a quick “no” from someone. For me, I feel like they haven’t even given it any real thought. How could someone be so quick to decline something that I found so worthwhile?

Well, then there are the days in the past where I have felt the weight and crush of anxiety that was purely brought on from saying “yes” to way too many things. You see, for me saying “yes”, is me being a good friend and me keeping someone happy. I haven’t always been able to say “no” and understand that saying “no” has actually been saying “yes” to myself.

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This post is a bit related to last week’s post about self-care. In order to keep your mind and body healthy, the reality is, we cannot always say “yes”. Even to those who are the most near and dear to our hearts. As a person who identifies as an empath, every time I say “no”, I truly do feel like I’m letting someone down. And I quite possibly may be making someone feel disappointed or even hurt, but if saying “no” means me keeping my mind balanced and healthy at the time, then to me, that’s the most important consideration.

We say “yes” a lot not only in our personal lives, but professional lives as well. And it seems more difficult to say “no” to things when it’s your livelihood on the line. I used to get so worn out from worrying about work at work and then after leaving the office that it made me feel as though I couldn’t do it. I had aspirations of maybe doing more in the organization I work for, but over my almost ten years at this place of work, I see people higher up than me saying “yes” to more things which equate to more hours at the office and less at home and from my viewpoint, feeling like they cannot be away from the office to fully relax. I don’t want that.

As a photographer, early on, I was taking on every little photo opportunity I had. I jumped into doing weddings, and as much as I enjoy them, I burned out. I burned out from saying “yes” (in addition to completely under charging for my work and time). It took me a year off to reflect and decide which parts of the photography world I really wanted to invest my time and energy. I needed to decide what I wanted to actually say “yes” to, and what I would be willing to say “no” to and refer those people to another qualified person. It has been a huge work in progress, but I feel like I can finally say that I have learned my worth in terms of both time and money.

The guilt of saying “no” can impact some more than others. I still feel really guilty saying no in some situations. And it will eat at me for a few days. But when that happens I try to reflect back on situations that I said “yes” and on the day of the photo shoot, event, etc recall how I felt that day. The feeling of dread is often the word that best describes how I feel when I say “yes” to something that my whole heart isn’t into. But saying “yes” to something I am 100% on board with makes me feel all kinds of excitement, creativity, and makes me want to do the very best at whatever the task is.


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So in 2019, I’ll continue on the path of learning to say “no” and “yes” in the right situations for me. If you’re a stranger, a friend, a family member, all I ask is that you respect whatever answer I give to you. And realize that me saying “no” means that I need to look out for me. And I would say be respectful of others who may be struggling with wanting to do it all and maybe not looking out for themselves. We’re all in the “yes”/”no” game together.

Is learning to say “no” more to things that don’t make you truly happy something that you’re looking to improve upon? Have you found ways that help say “no” in your own daily life? If so, let me know some of your tips in the comments.

Thanks for being here.

Mallorie